Patrick Kicken: What all major radio stations can learn from Budget Energie

[BLOG] It’s nice that energy prices are finally going down again. I had already read something about it here and there, but it only really became clear to me through a top action by an energy company, Budget Energie. They were the first to dive under the energy ceiling of the government with their rates and thus really reached all the media. Even the Eight Hours News paid attention to it, with name and surname. Three guesses which website I immediately visited and indeed: much lower than where I am now. Whoops, another customer. And I won’t be the only one who has switched thanks to this huge mountain of free publicity. I’m writing about it again now. Why are all the major radio stations so stubborn and almost seem averse to this kind of free advertising, which can give you a mountain of extra fame and therefore listeners?

Last Monday afternoon I was lying in the dental chair, where NPO Radio 2 is always on. I deliberately do not meet between 12 and 2 pm, because that torture cannot be anaesthetized with any syringe. Gijs Staverman after 2 pm I usually don’t have such a problem. It was Blue Monday and what do I hear coming from the little speaker above me while my front tooth is being made? Right, Blue Monday from New Order. A brief convulsion, after which the dentist asks ‘Are you OK, Mr. Kicken?’. I mutter “wja howr’ and he quietly grinds on. Man oh man what a mess that is. Radio stations and jocks think they are ‘topical’ by playing this on such a day. Also ticked off again. Other (national!) stations and jocks will not have gotten further than that ‘do you know a nice song with BLUE in the title that we can play for you?’. Is that being up-to-date and making radio a sexy medium again? The answer is three letters long.

It was different 15 years ago in the golden years of Radio Veronica. We tried everything to respond to current events and to think in advance about what free publicity it could generate. The amounts for speeding fines went up? Radio Veronica pays for your speeding ticket. The NK Typewriter Throwing on National Secretary’s Day, go front page Telegraaf, advertising value at least 25,000 euros, costs of three old typewriters from the cycle: 50 euros at most. Bob Marley died at the age of 25 > bags of weed given away in the morning show Kicken Wakker! Despite the music clause of 5 years and older, we sounded like a station of today in everything. You owe it to your listener and advertiser, whatever format you have. Same now here: the columns I write about something current are of course best read and picked up by other sites, especially if I’m right on top of it.

When the Zwarte Piet discussion started in 2013, I brought Henk Westbroek & Henk Temming to the studio to try to get their hit ‘Sinterklaas who knows him not’ back to number 1. All ended up on the ANP, many newspapers, Shownieuws, Boulevard and even calls from the Radio 1 news in Flanders. At Veronica there was a clipping newspaper in which everything that was published was mentioned, including advertising value. So a kind of competition started between the jocks who could score the most free publicity that month. Just fits your job! Don’t just be busy with your own Instagram account and how many followers you have. Many shows and stations are self-absorbed clubs that think that their ‘crazy action’ or ‘stunt’ is by definition already brilliant and makes the press, even if it’s not alive at all. Or it’s a fluke. Or the same channel-wide promotion every year, no surprise.

As a radio station you should be up-to-date. This is not only possible through the music. Not just by reading the news. You’re supposed to do something with that news. Think back to the golden days of Edwin Evers early in the morning. He made sure that the conversations between Frank and Ronald de Boer always had a topical twist. And he regularly made songs on current affairs. Who do you still hear doing that? Most stations are busy with the navel-gazing called the RadioRing and “vote for me!” to call. Or the 538 morning show with Wietze and Klaas who make a song about a muesli ball..

Most radio stations have a copy/paste policy. Every year in January “Here with your bill” at 538. Which, of course, you could very easily have transformed into ‘Here with your energy bill’. Much more current. Also nice to bind the families to you as a morning show, a few months later: “Here with your drawing!”. Let the kids get to know your brand. You can even make it come back a few times a year. Will fuel prices rise again? “Here with your fuel receipt!”. Dare to be original and to move along with the issues of the day/week. No, instead we are busy with the new tracks on the playlist. Also important, your music mix, but this is just as important. A golden rule in this is: if your radio show can be broadcast again next week and nobody notices, then it was not a good radio show. This does not only apply to morning and afternoon drives. The whole day should sound like it has to do with NOW. They call this with a fancy word urgency and very few radio stations have that at the moment.

Sky does it again for the umpteenth time ‘Live free for a year’. What is everyone busy with right now? That’s right, the prices of the groceries. So: transform it and make a press release with ‘Sky Radio pays for groceries for 100 families for a year’. Costs you the same amount and gives you much more publicity and that oh so important ‘word of mouth’. Yes Sky responds nicely to the atmosphere of the festive month with Christmas music, with Valentine’s Day with love songs and with nice weather they are there like crazy with summer jingles and summer hits, good claims are made but people hardly talk about that and the newspapers not at all. Want to take the Sky Christmas tram through Amsterdam every year? Is that the best you can do? Come on, marketing department, does anyone still work there at Talpa?! And then find it strange that the brand and market share are slowly ebbing away. Or is this another case of ‘just do what we do every year, otherwise Uncle John from Laren will be on the phone again!’.

Are there any examples of stations that have mastered this and are thus angling for that much-needed free publicity? Well one last example I remember is from Slam! during the corona time: amusement parks were closed and Slam! gave ‘an amusement park for you and a friend all alone for a day’ away. Brilliant! That’s what radio stations should be: larger than life. Arrange things that you cannot do yourself. Don’t beg for votes, requests and apps. I’m heartbroken with the new listening rating measurement method: it will really be the time of the big reckoning in which stations will no longer survive by doing the same thing day-in-day-out, year-in-year-out and artificially inflating their listening rating. repair with yet another bus shelter campaign.

Do you know what also made me switch to this energy company? I thought it was a cool, sympathetic move. Of course this has been thought about, but Budget Energy exactly responds to that feeling that already prevails among many: we pay squint for energy and groceries. I thought it was so cool that I immediately switched from T Mobile to their Budget Mobile. Will I get money for promoting this? No. I do this out of reciprocity. And of course I’m not averse to an advantage! Is there a recent free publicity campaign that has stuck with you?

Patrick Kicken

Incidentally, it is best to archive pieces of content to broadcast again if current events demand it. How about this 2005 classic?

@patrickkicken #Blondje en de #Sneeuw #winter #grap #patrickkicken #humor #lachen #weekend #viraal #viral #moppen #kicken #foryou #fy #fypage #nederland #nederlands ♬ original sound – Patrick Kicken

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